What I learned from TGCW18
This past weekend thousands of women joined together- some boarding airplanes, others squeezing next to friends in the car and making the long drive to the Indianapolis Convention Center. We got our lanyards, studied our maps, took silly photos, and worked hard to muster restraint when viewing the room full of book deals.
This year my decision to come was last minute- a fleeting hope that perhaps they’d have room for one more volunteer opening. They did, and I can’t help but marvel at what the last few days have taught me.
We dug deep into Deuteronomy, hearing of the faithfulness of the God who redeemed us, not because we obeyed, but in our rebellion. Speakers I admire and have formed me greatly taught what loving my neighbor means, what loving God looks like, and how we can’t do one single bit of it on our own. I learned more insight into how to read the Bible, wisdom in dealing in politics, and reminders of just how much God loves the church.
While I value this instruction, and thank God for the women and men who spoke, I found I learned even more from what was not in those sessions. It was in that time I spoke to an empty-nester from South Dakota who is trusting God to work his grace in her church’s ministry. I heard her marvel and show excitement at the wisdom of speakers and attendees twenty years her junior.
In this in-between I served alongside women just out of college, women pursuing study in Biblical languages, or supporting their husband through seminary. All of them eager to disciple and serve the people God places around them. I spoke to a woman about God’s sovereignty in pain and disappointments as we shared birth stories, and she shared with me a new way to find resources to grow in my theology. I ate lunch with a friend and navigated hard realities and offered counsel that I knew had only come to my mind by the Lord’s provision. And it was during one break that I found myself crying over my orange chicken because God was using the godly woman across the table to remove my blinders and show me what I’d been missing for so long.
I saw more of God’s beauty these past few days. A beauty that, praise the Lord, is not relegated to only those with a speaking schedule. It’s a beauty that comes out of his whole church- his beautiful bride (Ephesians 5:27). Not because we are skilled, special, or important enough- but because we were loved first and have been redeemed by our God (1 John 4:19). He turned our hearts (Deuteronomy 30:6) and continues to soften them- using his precious Word and his precious people to point us back to him- the God who is worth treasuring above all else.
My sweet Savior knew what I needed these past few days, and he made sure I was given it in each encounter and every conversation he put in my path. I’d venture to say I’m not the only one. Whether we are listening to a speaker in a room full of thousands, or across the table from a friend- may we look and see it’s our beautiful God who is the one who is and has always been moving in his church. And that is something to marvel in.
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